I’m not sure how it’s the holiday season again, because it seems like it just ended yesterday. I am particularly distressed about how Christmas continues to invade November – this year, here in Charlottesville, the town lit its Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. Despite all we are hearing about the economy, the retail chaos has started. Money is tight for a lot of people, and this naturally leads people to purchase less expensive toys for their kids. Unfortunately, it is usually the cheaper toys that are poorly designed and poorly made. Parents should be vigilant in inspecting all toys bought for or given to their children.
But it’s important that parents know what to look for. In that vein, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) has recently released their 24th annual report on toy safety entitled “Trouble in Toyland” which draws attention to toys which might present a danger to children. USPIRG’s report divides “dangerous” toys into 16 different categories, including toys that are too noisy and may endanger children’s hearing, toys with small or detachable parts that could be accidentally swallowed, and toys that may contain potentially toxic chemicals (lead and phthalates), to name only a few.
And a really cool feature – they also has an interactive smart phone website: http://www.toysafety.mobi to aid shoppers in avoiding already-known toy hazards and to report potential dangers. So, if you have a question about a toy while your shopping, you can access this site and get an immediate answer.
A recent CNN “American Morning” show examined several toys which were identified in the USPIRG report as containing potential hazards to children, such as the “Real Wood Shape Sorter Barn” made by P&C, which had a toy part on the side of the barn that could be a choking hazard to a child. Also, Kota and Pals Stompers Triceratops made by Playskool was identified as a toy potentially too noisy for children’s ears. Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, indicated, however, that this particular “toy complies with all sound requirements” answering USPIRG’s concern. A toy identified as potentially toxic to children is “The Elmo Lunch Bag” made by Fast Forward, New York.
A variety of different child safety resources all generally agree on how best to protect kids from potentially dangerous toys. Here are some tips on toys and toy shopping for your child’s safety:
- Keep toys with tiny parts away from children younger than 3 years old. These toys and their parts are choking hazards for infants and toddlers.
- If you purchase a toy a child can ride (tricycle, bicycle, scooter, etc.), remember helmets are important and necessary for the safety of your child when using these toys and should accompany their purchase.
- If you use a shopping cart of any kind, make sure your child remains seated and secured with a seat belt. And watch little hands carefully when you are at the check-out counter!
- When shopping for toys, take into consideration a child’s age, interests and abilities. A “grown-up” toy in a child’s hands can be boring, frustrating , and sometimes dangerous.
- Whether you shop at a mall toy shop or at a large distributor, or thrift or second-hand store, check http://www.recalls.gov or http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html to make sure children’s toys and products haven’t been previously recalled for safety reasons.
Have a happy and safe holiday!